Health - HBHS Rowing Handbook

The rowing programme is intense, and the boys need to look after themselves in order to be able to keep up with their rowing and school commitments.

Blisters on hands are par for the course for rowers. Hands can be conditioned by applying methylated spirits to toughen the skin, and over the season, callouses will form. Sports tape can be applied to protect hands. Blisters can be treated by using a sterilized needle to pierce the skin and drain fluid. If plasters are required, first cover the blister with fabric plaster with a dressing strip, and then overlay with sports tape. (You’ll go through a lot of sports tape over a season!) If the blisters become infected, lance them and apply an antibacterial ointment or solution and cover with dressing strip plaster and sports tape, as above. Your boy may need to take some Panadol or similar pain relief prior to rowing, if the blisters are particularly bad. Tape and dressings should be removed as soon as possible after rowing, to let the hands dry out. If the infection persists, don’t delay in getting a doctor to check it out, as antibiotics may be required to clear it up.

Boils and Abscesses
Boils on backsides are a common affliction produced by the combination of dampness (water and sweat), friction and body hair. Sometimes an ingrown hair can give rise to an abscess, which is potentially very nasty. Your boy needs to be vigilant and let you know if he’s experiencing any problems, so that he can be checked out, without delay.

Fungal Infections
Once again, the combination of warmth and dampness provides a great incubator for fungal infections, especially on feet and the groin area. Boys should remove tight, damp clothing as soon as they can after a race or training to allow those areas to dry out.

These rowing boys need a lot of good fuel to keep them going – complex carbohydrates for energy, concentration and good muscle recovery; “good” fats; protein before and after exercise, for hardworking muscles, and, of course, lots of fresh fruit and veges. Junk food is just not going to cut it!
While the boys are training, they’ll need to have three main meals and three snacks spread throughout the day. The day before a race day, get plenty of fluids in.
On race days timing of food intake is important:
  • Have a major meal 3-4 hours before a race, or the night before, if the race is early in the morning.
  • 1-2 hours before the race have an energy snack, eg, banana/yoghurt/milo/cereal/creamed rice/tinned fruit/Up & Go
  • Straight after the race have recovery food, eg, muesli bars/tuna sandwich/banana, and water
  • Have plenty of snacks during the day to maintain energy levels
* Based on a 2009 presentation by Andrea Braakhuis, sports nutritionist, to HBHS rowers and parents.

It’s very important that the boys keep hydrated. They will need to have their own water bottles with them, and should drink through training. Be aware that some sports drinks can contain a lot of refined sugar.
A good way for boys to check their level of hydration is to look at the colour of their urine - if urine is dark, they need to drink more water.

Teenagers are often night owls, but the physical demands and early starts imposed on rowers require them to adjust their timetables to ensure that they get the sleep they need to be able to keep going with their training, stay alert at school, and get their homework done. It can be a battle at first, but with age come’s wisdom!!


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